On Monday the 22nd of June 2021, the president of France, Emmanuel Macron, joined Bernard Arnault, LVMH owner, to unveil La Samaritaine, the LVMH-owned department store on the 1st arrondissement. La Samaritaine is officially opening on the 23rd of June, 2021, after 16 years of renovation made even longer by the pandemic and global lockdown in 2020.
La Samaritaine was founded in 1870 by Ernest Cognacq and Marie-Louise Jay as a revolutionary concept of making consumer goods, including fineries, more accessible to the larger population.
In 2001, LVMH acquired a 55% stake in the store and raised it to 100% in 2010, 5 years after the store was forced to close for safety reasons.
16 years and €750 million in renovation later, LVMH is betting that even with a pandemic that has accelerated e-commerce and raised it above in-store shopping, La Samaritaine will be the beloved department store of not just tourists, but Parisians as well.
“It’s important for us that Parisians come back to this place that is so special to them, that they first come out of curiosity and return because they find the experience amazing. This is also what will make the tourists come [to] an iconic and authentic place where Parisians go,” explains Eléonore de Boysson, president of DFS, Europe and the Middle East.
DFS is also LVMH-owned and is the travel retailer entrusted with operating the 20,000-square-metre retail space.
What to expect at the newly-opened La Samaritaine
The department store features 650 luxury brands in fashion, accessories, beauty, jewellery and watches, 12 restaurant concepts and an adjacent luxury hotel Cheval Blanc Paris, which opens on 7 September. A Parisian outpost of LVMH-owned Caffè Cova is opening across the street on 15 July. The site also includes social housing, offices and a daycare centre.
“It was important to make a store that would be differentiating, given the competitive environment in Paris, so we conceived it as a place for living and strolling,” says de Boysson.
Van Cleef & Arpels is one of the brands at La Samaritaine, and so also is Loulou, a gift boutique store. Then there is an eclectic mix of fashion and food scattered across, including Street Caviar, which combines street food and caviar, conceived by Maison Prunier, and Dînette, conceived by Dalloyau, which offers snacks in dollhouse format on the women’s fashion floor. L’Exclusive, yet another restaurant concept, offers pastries on the beauty floor.
Of course, you can expect to see epicurean brands under the LVMH umbrella at La Samaritaine, although it would not be business as usual at their shops. For example, you can get a personalised Arrow Box from Veuve Clicquot or include your initials on Hennessy’s leather decanter. This is intended to encourage tourists to buy in-store rather than at the airport duty-free.
Visitors can also expect to enjoy special experiences at La Samaritaine. They might include a guided visit of the building with an art historian, a meeting with the artisan who restored the gilding under the Art Nouveau glass roof or signing up for champagne tasting in the cellars of the LVMH champagne houses. “We’ll be experience agents,” says De Boysson.
Cheval Blanc, Paris
With all of these experiences and activities expected to take place at the department store, it is evident that a one-day trip will be grossly inadequate to fully appreciate the La Samaritaine experience.
Which is why the store will include the luxury hotel Cheval Blanc Paris just adjacent. Consisting of 72 rooms and suites with a 1,000-square-metre suite on the top floor; a 30-metre pool; a spa in collaboration with Dior and four restaurants – Le Tour Paris, Langosteria and Plénitude plus a coffee shop, Cheval Blanc is just the right place to relax and unwind after a long day of hard shopping and sight-seeing.
The hotel also has a secret elevator that connects hotel guests directly with the department store. For the ultimate luxury experience, Cheval Blanc guests can book personal shoppers to transform their suites into fitting rooms – an extra-special perk that should appeal to the wealthiest of visitors to Paris.